Disclaimer: I don't own the Cartwrights or the Ponderosa (obviously). However, I do claim direct ownership of the cat. He isn't much, but he's mine :)
A flash of black darted across the road in front of Adam.
"What was that?" Joe cried, staring at the bush into which the streak had disappeared.
Hoss ambled over to the bush and looked into it. "Why, it's just a little black cat." As he said it, he reached in and picked it up by the scruff of its neck.
"Put that thing down," Adam said sternly, "It could be sick with something."
Smiling, Hoss tucked the fur ball into the crook of his arm and started scratching it between the ears. "Ah, no, Adam, he's okay. Look at 'im!"
The black cat shoved it head into Hoss's hand and purred loudly.
"He's sure a cute little guy," Joe cooed, "too bad he's bad luck."
Hoss looked utterly confused. "What are ya talkin' about?"
"He's referring to the old, ridiculous superstition that if a black cat crosses your path, you're in for some bad luck." Adam said, rolling his eyes.
"No kidding!" Hoss mused.
"Yeah," Joe said, "luckily we don't have to worry about any bad luck, big brother, because..." Joe turned his eyes meaningfully on Adam. "...our little fuzzy friend crossed Adam's path."
"Oh, please!" Adam scoffed, crossing his arms.
"I'd watch out," Joe said with a grin, "because I've heard that bad luck can cause severe injuries and even death!"
Hoss gasped. "You really believe there is such a thing as bad luck, Joe?"
"Of course not," Adam interjected scornfully.
Joe grew serious and put a sympathetic hand on Adam's shoulder. "I'm sorry, but I do. I really mean it when I say watch out."
Adam pulled away and snorted. "Knock it off, Joe!"
"Don't say I didn't warn you," Joe said with a grin.
Hoss was still holding the cat. "Do ya think it'd be bad luck to bring a black cat home? For a pet?"
"No!" Adam shouted, "We're not bringing that flea bitten beast home with us."
"Ah, c'mon, Adam," Joe said, "you know Agnes is getting so old she can hardly twitch her tail. We could use a new cat."
"We can get a different cat."
"I thought you didn't believe in bad luck," Joe said, smiling broadly.
"I don't," Adam hawed, "it's just..."
Adam shifted his gaze between his two younger brothers. "Fine," he said in a low voice, "Bring the mangy thing home. We'll just see what Pa has to say about it."
"I think it's about time we got a new cat," Ben said, stroking the black cat in his arms, "and this little fellow is certainly strong and healthy."
"That's what I said, Pa." Hoss beamed at Adam. "I told ya didn't l?"
"You sure did," Adam growled.
Joe grinned. "You aren't scared of Superstition, are ya, Adam?"
"Of course I'm not. Superstitions are just a series of old wives' tales."
"Oh, no, Adam," Joe interrupted, "I didn't mean superstitions, I meant the cat. Hoss and I decided to name him Superstition."
Adam made a face. "Ha, ha. You two are hilarious."
"We try, older brother," Joe said, patting Adam's shoulder before he left the barn laughing heartily.
Adam rolled over in bed.
The shriek woke Adam out of his sound sleep and sent him skyward. In his mad scramble to get out of bed, he got tangled in his sheets and landed with a heavy thud on the floor. To make matters worse, he knocked his head soundly on his nightstand.
"What on earth...!"
Ben, followed closely by Hoss and Joe, burst into Adam's room. The light of the lamp in Ben's hand gave view to this situation, and Joe and Hoss burst out laughing.
"Poor Adam fell out of bed," Joe said in mock sympathy.
Adam glowered up at his brothers. "Something's in my bed!"
The three men in the doorway moved their gaze up to the mussed up bed. There, curled in a tight, purring ball, was Superstition.
"It was just Superstition," Hoss said, going and scooping up the cat.
Ben frowned. "Why is he in the house?"
"I don't know, Pa," Joe said earnestly, "I swear Hoss and I locked him up in the barn before bed."
"Then how'd he get in here?" Ben demanded.
Hoss heaved his shoulders in a bewildered shrug. "He must've found a way to slip out of the barn and into the house."
Adam was still sitting on the floor, rubbing his head. "I think I have another idea."
"What's that?" Ben asked.
Adam turned a furious glare at Joe. "I think that a certain someone put the darned cat in my bed as a practical joke!"
"What? Me?" Joe squeaked.
Ben also looked at his youngest son accusingly. "What do you have to say for yourself, Joseph?"
Joe flinched under the use of his given name. "Pa, I didn't do that."
"You'd better be telling the truth," Ben growled.
"I am, Pa, honest!" Joe insisted.
Ben's expression softened. "Alright then, Hoss and I will put the cat back in the barn and there had better be no more shenanigans."
In light of the events durning the night, Adam was in a good mood when he came to the breakfast table. He smiled at his father and Hoss. And at Joe too, but it was more forced. "Good morning."
"Good morning," his family replied in unison.
"What are your plans today, Adam?" Ben asked as his oldest son served himself a generous helping of scrambled eggs, bacon, and hot cakes.
"Nothing interesting," Adam replied, "I thought I'd repair that broken bored in the barn loft."
"I could do that," Joe offered.
Hoss snorted. "Don't let 'im, Adam. He's just trying to get out of helping me check fences."
"Thanks, Hoss," Joe grumbled.
"Anytime, little brother," Hoss said with a grin.
"You're going to be the only one here today, Adam," Ben said, ignoring his younger sons. "I've got a meeting in town, and Hop Sing is going with me to do some errands."
"You sure you wanna be here all by yourself, Adam?" Joe asked sweetly, "What if something happens?"
Adam shot his youngest brother a dark look, but didn't honor him with a reply.
Within the hour, everyone was gone, except for Adam who was in the shed gathering the tools he needed to fix the board in the loft. He hummed as he carried them up the ladder, and was just starting to whistle when he heard a soft sound.
Adam cringed and looked up to see the black cat sitting with its tail curled around its forepaws. It blinked at him with round, yellow-green eyes. "Mew," it said again as though it expected an answer.
Adam hissed at it. "Shoo, you stupid cat. Get on out of here. Scat!"
Humphing with disgust, Adam started his task, making a considerable effort to ignore the feline. It was only five minutes into his work that he forgot about the cat altogether, and started to hum again.
"Mew," Superstition said.
Adam glared up at the cat. He didn't know why he was letting it bother him. Back when she wasn't so old, Agnes used to come and watch him work in the barn all the time, and he hadn't minded. Why was this stupid cat any different?
"Would you please go away?" he growled.
The reply sounded vaguely like no, and that annoyed Adam more than he cared to admit. He picked up one of his gloves and tossed it at the cat. "Get out of here!"
The glove landed harmlessly a good six inches away from the cat, but it was enough to send it on its way in a hurry. It ran to the ladder and shoved against it before jumping down from the loft. Adam watched, horrified, as the ladder teetered forward.
"No, no, no, no..." he cried, trying to get up in time to catch it.
Unluckily for him, the ladder continued its decent more rapidly, and toppled with a clattering sound below.
Adam's heart sank as he crawled to the edge of the loft to look down fifteen feet at the floor. He gritted his teeth and closed his eyes. "Great. Just great. Now I'm stuck up here!"
Adam fixed the board and then tried to figure out a way to get down from the loft. He was pretty sure it was hopeless, but he really didn't want to be up there when Joe and Hoss got home.
Superstition was trying to keep him company, mewing and purring and rolling around in the straw.
"You're the one who got me into this mess," Adam told him bitterly. "How can a little cat knock over a ladder?"
"It doesn't make sense," Adam went on, "you weigh, what, seven pounds?"
Adam frowned. "I can't believe I'm conversing with a cat!"
Adam gave up trying to get down, and sat back in the straw. The only hope he could cling to now was if Ben and Hop Sing got home first. It would still be embarrassing, and he didn't doubt he'd be laughed at, but it would be better than hearing his brothers' teasing.
"I can think of a hundred things I could be doing right now," Adam sighed.
The cat padded towards him. "Mew."
"Humph!" Adam snorted. "If you think I'm going to pet you, you're gonna be sorely disappointed."
Superstition mewed again, sat down, and began washing himself.
"You'd best hurry up, Joe, or else I might eat all the sandwiches without ya!"
Adam startled, realizing that he had fallen asleep. The voices of his brothers in the barn below floated up to him, and his heart dropped heavily into his stomach. As if that wasn't bad enough, Superstition was curled up on his chest.
"Get off," he growled under his breath, shoving the cat off of him so he could sit up.
"Hey, I wonder why Adam took the ladder down," Joe said.
"Yeah," Hoss agreed, "and he just left it lying here like it just fell by itself."
It's as if they know I'm up here, Adam thought.
"Should we put it back up?" Joe asked.
"Nah, older brother is really smart. He don't believe in any of that superstitious stuff, and if he thought knocking down the ladder was a good idea, then it was a right, good idea."
"Alright, guys," Adam said, looking down at them, "I know that you know I'm up here. Now put the ladder back up, would ya?"
"You mean you've been stuck up there all morning?" Joe gasped in mock surprise. "What bad luck you're having."
"Joe, so help me, if you make one more snide comment-" Adam started.
"That ladder looks heavy, Hoss," Joe interrupted, "maybe we should wait to put it up until Pa is home to help us out."
Adam bit his tongue and then said as calmly as he could, "Please put up the ladder."
Joe would have gone on with tormenting Adam a little longer, but Hoss's big heart got in the way. The ladder was replaced and Adam climbed down stiffly.
"How'd you know I was up there?" Adam asked, dusting the straw off of his clothes.
Joe chuckled. "We heard ya snoring."
"Ha, ha, ha," Adam said, frowning miserably.
Hoss was staring up at the loft. "How'd you knock the ladder down anyway?"
"The cat knocked it down," Adam muttered.
"Huh? I didn't catch that," Joe said with a grin, putting a hand to his ear.
Adam gave him a dark look before he turned sharply and stormed out of the barn, tossing one last retort over his shoulder. "Get your hearing checked!"
I am looking for a few ideas on what can happen to poor Adam next. So, if you have a suggestion, please leave a review, and I'll pick out a couple to use in the next part. Only one rule:
1) must include dear, little Superstition!